The adult section of this year’s Portland Track Festival (PTF) will be held on June 11th at the Lewis and Clark College facility. Once again I will be coordinating the 3000 meter race for master’s women. If the race is anything like last year’s one, it would be worth considering for any serious old lady trackster.
In 2007 I returned to track racing after a 20 year absence and I found that I had really missed it. I have been fortunate enough to corral a few USATF track medals since then, but the best thing I’ve done on the track has nothing to do with my running capabilities.
I was a spectator at the 2008 version of the PTF and I enjoyed the meet for most part. But I couldn’t help but notice that there was an excellent race for master’s men but no love for the aging women. A few months after the meet, I asked meet director Craig Rice about it. Craig said that he’d love to put on a master’s women’s race, but he needed someone to champion it. He then gave me a meaningful look. After a short deliberation I said I’d do it.
The first order of business was to find women who’d agree to race the thing. Dave Clingan, the director of the master’s men’s mile told me that if I could get one runner, others would follow. Somehow I managed to convince Carmen Troncoso to travel from Texas to Portland for the race. And sure enough the field filled out once she had signed on.
Trina Painter won the race and broke 10 minutes. Christine Olen kicked strongly for second place, and Carmen bettered the American Record for 50-54 women. But that was just the beginning. We agreed to put the race on again in 2010.
As the following spring unfolded it became clear that the sophomore edition of the race would be special indeed. Trina and Carmen returned and were joined by an all star cast of women including Sabra Harvey, Lisa Valle, Tania Fischer, Karen Steen and Kirsten Leetch. And perhaps the most amazing thing was that I managed to get Russian legend Tatyana Pozdnyakova to race even though she was no longer running seriously.
Trina again won the race, Lisa outkicked Kirsten for second and all three of them finished under 10 minutes. Both Carmen and Sabra set new American records with phenomenal efforts. Eight women broke the coveted 90 percent age group mark. And I had a wonderful weekend playing host to all these incredible athletes and nice people. One of my coworkers wondered how on earth I had managed to get all of these women to travel to Portland for this race. I just smiled and said “well I asked them”.
The truth is that I’ve been fortunate. Portland is of course a great town for running and June weather is usually close to perfect for middle distance racing here. The meet is well organized and there are few opportunities for old ladies to run for cash. 3000 meters is not the most common race distance and this meet presents a chance to run for records.
And in 2011, the timing of the race makes it a perfect tune up prior to the Worlds in Sacramento.
Carmen, Kirsten and Tania have all indicated that they will be back this year and several more women have expressed interest. I am hoping that this year’s version of the race will be the best yet. Any woman with a time under 13 minutes can run the race and I will make exceptions for older women who might be looking at a notable age group time.
There is a modest amount of prize money with $200 for first place $100 for second, $50 for third and $100 for the top age graded performance.
There are also some excellent open races at the meet every year. This week I can’t help but remember the 2009 meet when we put on 10,000 meter races for both men and women. The late Sally Meyerhoff won the women’s race with a strong last mile. While it seems hard to believe that someone so young and so healthy could now be gone, her death only reinforces my desire to keep on doing the sport I love for as long as I can.
I would like to hear from any woman who might be interested in running the 3000 meters in 2011. You may feel free to contact me at jmharps57 and I am on gmail and that is a dot com.
Athlete Club time Age grade
1 Painter, Trina McMillan Elite 9:49.48 91.7%
2 Valle, Lisa SoCal Track 9:56.69 91.6%
3 Leetch, Kirsten See Jane Run 9:59.25 91.2%
4 Troncoso, Carmen Rogue Running 10:06.60 98.3%
5 Fischer, Tania See Jane Run 10:33.01 86.3%
6 Taylor, Kelle See Jane Run 11:09.84 83.6%
7 Harvey, Sabra Unattached 11:11.49 101.9%
8 Laurie, Porter Club Northwest 11:18.19 84.6%
9 Pozdnyakova, Tatyana Unattached 11:19.97 92.5%
10 Harper, Joanna Team Red Lizard 12:00.67 84.9%
11 Groesz, Jeanette Unattached 12:12.82 92.1%
12 Armstrong, Beth Team Red Lizard 12:37.22 71.4%
13 Puterbaugh, Candy Unattached 12:44.20 92.3%
14 Vesey, Robin Unattached 12:54.92 82.3%